Don’t we, the American people, have a right to know if a “friendly country” bankrolled the Sept. 11 attacks, and funds terrorists bent on destroying more of America?
Then why is President George W. Bush hiding evidence of terrorist-funders? He, after all, gave us the sharp moral distinction of countries being “either with us or against us” after Sept. 11, 2001.
Last Friday, the Sept. 11 Congressional Commission (search) issued its massive report, which documents CIA-FBI (search) bureaucratic spats, and overlooked and under-shared intelligence. Little new in that news.
What’s new in official documents -- the report’s real zinger -- is being hidden from the American public. Were I a scandal-monger, I’d pull out the gold-minted “C” word of scandals.
But it’s not a cover-up -- at least, not an effective one.
For someone slyly gave a glimpse to a New York Times reporter, who lead the newspaper Saturday with: “Senior officials of Saudi Arabia have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable groups and other organizations that may have helped finance the September 2001 attacks, a still-classified section of a Congressional report on the hijackings says, according to people who have read it.”
If true, this means Saudi Arabia (search) is “against us” -- big time, since it’s the spigot for the terrorist resources.
The Times piece makes it clear that it is true: “Some people who have read the classified chapter said it represented a searing indictment of how Saudi Arabia's ruling elite have, under the guise of support for Islamic charities, distributed millions of dollars to terrorists through an informal network of Saudi nationals, including some in the United States.”
While it’s infuriating that Saudis bankroll terrorist fanatics, that’s a fact about a foreign country that we must confront.
But it’s more infuriating that the Bush administration spikes this critical information and continues to consider -- as Secretary of State Colin Powell chummily put it -- Saudi Arabia as “a great friend to the United States for many, many years and a strategic partner.”
This happy-face stance would surely succumb to Bush’s realism and moralism, were it not for Saudi money. The Saudis treat Washington, D.C., like Jakarta or Kiev, spreading its petro-dollars around PR firms and oil and investment companies connected to top government officials.
Well, we’re not Jakarta or Kiev. Someone should remind the Saudis of that. Our government cannot be bought.
Bush officials explain how cooperative the Saudi government was during the Iraq war and sundry oil crises. I’ll grant them part of such claims. Yes, what else could Saudis do with oil but sell it on the world market? Saudis make nothing of value. Moreover, they’ve spent themselves into such staggering hock as to make inconceivable any oil boycott or embargo.
Granting us over-flight rights during the Iraq war -- which, by the way, removed the number one threat to Saudi Arabia itself -- pales in comparison to granting them (the Islamic fanatics) funds for terrorism.
Why doesn’t such a straight-talking administration talk straight about this problem? Or at least not “classify” the information the congressional commission carefully gathered?
We have a right to know whether Saudi Arabia is “with us or against us.”
We know they’re “against us” on values. Saudi Arabia ranks rock bottom on civil or political freedom. According to the non-partisan Freedom House (search), it looms in a lower circle of government hell along with North Korea, Iran, Syria, and the like.
They’re sure “against us” on honesty. It’s ranked by Transparency International (search) and such respected NGOs as one of the most corrupt regimes anywhere.
They’re obviously “against us” on religious freedom and tolerance. Christians cannot hold a Mass or a church service anywhere in Saudi Arabia. Even carrying a Bible into the country, or handing out Christian literature, is grounds for deportation or arrest. Saudi anti-Semitism (search) is downright sickening.
The Sept. 11 commission connects the dots of top Saudi royals paying “protection money” to terrorists -- protection to them by keeping terrorism as an export item, not, for sure, protection for us. Quite the contrary.
Documents filed last year in U.S. federal court claim that Saudi royal family members met with Usama bin Laden (search) and gave $300 million-plus to Al Qaeda terrorists for a pledge of no terrorism in Saudi Arabia itself.
Saudi officials of course deny this. They claim -- get this! -- that it’s not Saudi money, but Israeli agents, who did the dastardly deeds on Sept. 11. Minister of Interior, Prince Nayef, said that Zionists “are behind these events,” for it was “impossible that 19 youths including … Saudis carried out the operation of September 11, or that bin Laden or the Al Qaeda (search) organization did that alone.”
That the Saudis have funded -- and probably are funding -- groups promoting terrorism seems clear now.
So why can’t we see the evidence? We do have a right to know.
Kenneth Adelman is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News, was assistant to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from 1975 to 1977 and, under President Ronald Reagan, U.N. ambassador and arms-control director. Mr. Adelman is now co-host of TechCentralStation.com.